The person of Jesus or Isa in Arabic (peace be upon him) is of great
significance in both Islam and Christianity. However, there are
differences in terms of beliefs about the nature and life occurrences of
this noble Messenger.
Source of information about Jesus in Islam
Most of the Islamic information about Jesus is actually found in the Quran.
The Quran was revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
be upon him), and memorized and written down in his lifetime. Today,
anyone who calls him or herself a Muslim believes in the complete
authenticity of the Quran as the original revealed guidance from God.
Source of information about Jesus in Christianity
Christians take their information about Jesus from the Bible, which
includes the Old and New Testaments.
These contain four biblical narratives covering the life and death of
Jesus. They have been written, according to tradition, respectively by
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are placed at the beginning of the
New Testament and comprise close to half of it.
Encyclopedia Britannica notes that none of the sources of his life and
work can be traced to Jesus himself; he did not leave a single known
written word. Also, there are no contemporary accounts written of his
life and death. What can be established about the historical Jesus
depends almost without exception on Christian traditions, especially on
the material used in the composition of the Gospels of Mark, Matthew,
and Luke, which reflect the outlook of the later church and its faith in
Below are the views of Islam and Christianity based on primary source
texts and core beliefs.
1. Do Muslims believe he was a Messenger of One God? YES
Belief in all of the Prophets and Messengers of God is a fundamental
article of faith in Islam. Thus, believing in Prophets Adam, Jesus,
Moses, and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them) is a requirement
for anyone who calls him or herself a Muslim. A person claiming to be a
Muslim who, for instance, denies the Messengership of Jesus, is not
considered a Muslim.
The Quran says in reference to the status of Jesus as a Messenger:
"The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger before
whom many Messengers have passed away; and his mother adhered wholly to
truthfulness, and they both ate food (as other mortals do). See how We
make Our signs clear to them; and see where they are turning away!"
2. Do Muslims believe he was born of a Virgin Mother? YES
Like Christians, Muslims believe Mary, Maria in Spanish, or Maryam as
she is called in Arabic, was a chaste, virgin woman, who miraculously
gave birth to Jesus.
"Relate in the Book the story of Mary, when she withdrew from her
family, to a place in the East. She screened herself from them; then We
sent to her Our spirit (angel Gabriel) and he appeared before her as a
man in all respects. She said: I seek refuge from you in God Most
Gracious (come not near) if you do fear God. He said: Nay, I am only a
Messenger from your Lord, to announce to you the gift of a pure son. She
said: How shall I have a son, when no man has ever touched me, and I am
not unchaste? He said: So it will be, your Lord says: ï¿½That is easy for
Me; and We wish to appoint him as a sign unto men and a Mercy from Us':
It was a matter so decreed" (Quran 19:16-21).
3. Do Muslims believe Jesus had a miraculous birth? YES
The Quran says:
"She (Mary) said: ï¿½O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has
touched me.' He (God) said: ï¿½So (it will be) for God creates what He
wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: ï¿½Be!'- and it
It should also be noted about his birth that:
"Verily, the likeness of Jesus in God's Sight is the likeness of Adam.
He (God) created him from dust, then (He) said to him: ï¿½Be!'-and he was"
4. Do Muslims believe Jesus spoke in the cradle? YES
"Then she (Mary) pointed to him. They said: ï¿½How can we talk to one who
is a child in the cradle?' He (Jesus) said: ï¿½Verily! I am a slave of
God, He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; " (19:29-30).
5. Do Muslims believe he performed miracles? YES
Muslims, like Christians believe Jesus performed miracles. But these
were performed by the will and permission of God, Who has power and
control over all things.
"Then will God say: ï¿½O Jesus the son of Mary! recount My favor to you
and to your mother. Behold! I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit (the
angel Gabriel) so that you did speak to the people in childhood and in
maturity. Behold! I taught you the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the
Gospel. And behold: you make out of clay, as it were, the figure of a
bird, by My leave, and you breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by My
leave, and you heal those born blind, and the lepers by My leave. And
behold! you bring forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain
the children of Israel from (violence to you) when you did show them the
Clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: ï¿½This is nothing but
evident magic' (5:110).
6. Do Muslims believe in the Trinity? NO
Muslims believe in the Absolute Oneness of God, Who is a Supreme Being
free of human limitations, needs and wants. He has no partners in His
Divinity. He is the Creator of everything and is completely separate
from His creation.
God says in the Quran regarding the Trinity:
"People of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in
your religion, and attribute to God nothing except the truth. The
Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His
command that He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in
God and in His Messengers, and do not say: ï¿½God is a Trinity.' Give up
this assertion; it would be better for you. God is indeed just One God.
Far be it from His glory that He should have a son. To Him belongs all
that is in the heavens and in the earth. God is sufficient for a
guardian" (Quran 4:171).
7. Do Muslims believe that Jesus was the son of God? NO
"Say: "God is Unique! God, the Source [of everything]. He has not
fathered anyone nor was He fathered, and there is nothing comparable to
Him!" (Quran 112:1-4).
The Quran also states:
"Such was Jesus, the son of Mary; it is a statement of truth, about
which they vainly dispute. It is not befitting to the majesty of God,
that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a
matter, He only says to it, ï¿½Be' and it is" (Quran 19:34-35).
8. Do Muslims believe Jesus was killed on the cross then resurrected? NO
"ï¿½They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they
did.ï¿½ (Quran 4:156) ï¿½God lifted him up to His presence. God is Almighty,
All-Wiseï¿½ (Quran 4:157) .
1. Do Christians believe Jesus was a human being and Messenger of God?
YES & NO
With the exception of Unitarian Christians, who like all the early
followers of Jesus, still do not believe in the Trinity, most Christians
now believe in the Divinity of Jesus, which is connected to the belief
in Trinity. They say he is the second member of the Triune God, the Son
of the first part of the Triune God, and at the same time "fully" God in
2. Do Christians believe he was born of a Virgin Mother? YES
A chaste and pious human woman who gave birth to Jesus Christ, the
second member of the Trinity, the Son of God, and at the same time
"fully" God Almighty in every respect.
Christians believe however, that while she was a virgin, she was married
to a man named Joseph (Bible: Matthew:1:18). According to Matthew 1:25,
Joseph "kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called
His name Jesus".
3. Do Christians believe he had a miraculous birth? YES
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had
been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be
with child by the Holy Spirit" (Bible: Matthew 1:18)
4. Do Christians believe he performed miracles? YES
"And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to
speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretches out thy hand to
heal, and sign and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy
servant Jesus (Bible: Acts 4:30).
Christians believe that Jesus performed these miracles because he was
the Son of God as well as the incarnation of God.
5. Do Christians believe in the Trinity? YES
With the exception of the Unitarian Christians, who do not believe in
the Divinity of Christ, the Trinity, according to the Catholic
encyclopedia, is the term used for the central doctrine of the Christian
religion. The belief is that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three
Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons
or beings are distinct from each another, while being similar in
character: uncreated and omnipotent.
The First Vatican Council has explained the meaning to be attributed to
the term mystery in theology. It lays down that a mystery is a truth
which we are not merely incapable of discovering apart from Divine
Revelation, but which, even when revealed, remains "hidden by the veil
of faith and enveloped, so to speak, by a kind of darkness" (Const., "De
fide. cath.", iv). The First Vatican Council further defined that the
Christian Faith contains mysteries strictly so called (can. 4). All
theologians admit that the doctrine of the Trinity is of the number of
these. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that of all revealed truths, this
is the most impenetrable to reason.
6. Do Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God? YES
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever
believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent
the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world
might be saved through Him (Bible: John 3:16).
However, it is interesting to note that the term "son of God" is used in
other parts of the Bible to refer to Adam (Bible: Luke 3:38), Israel
(Bible: Exodus 4:22) and David (Bible: Psalms 2:7) as well. The
creatures of God are usually referred to in the Bible as children of God.
The role of Paul of Tarsus in shaping this belief and the belief in Trinity
The notion of Jesus as son of God is something that was established
under the influence of Paul of Tarsus (originally named Saul), who had
been an enemy of Jesus, but later changed course and joined the
disciples after the departure of Jesus.
Later, however, he initiated a number of changes into early Christian
teachings, in contradiction, for instance, to disciples like Barnabas,
who believed in the Oneness of God and who had actually lived and met
Paul is considered by a number of Christian scholars to be the father of
Christianity due to his additions of the following ideas:
that Jesus is the son of God,
the concept of Atonement,
the renunciation of the Law of the Torah.
Paul did these things in hopes of winning over the Gentiles (non-Jewish
people). His letters are another of the primary sources of information
on Jesus according to the Christian tradition.
The original followers of Prophet Jesus opposed these blatant
misrepresentations of the message of Jesus. They struggled to reject the
notion of the Divinity of Jesus for close to 200 years.
One person who was an original follower of Jesus was Barnabas. He was a
Jew born in Cyrus and a successful preacher of the teachings of Jesus.
Because of his closeness to Jesus, he was an important member of the
small group of disciples in Jerusalem who had had gathered together
following the disappearance of Jesus.
The question of Jesus's nature, origin and relationship with God was not
raised amongst Barnabas and the small group of disciples. Jesus was
considered a man miraculously endowed by God. Nothing in the words of
Jesus or the events in his life led them to modify this view.
The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the
Churches of Alexandria till 325 CE Iranaeus (130-200) wrote in support
of pure monotheism and opposed Paul for injecting into Christianity
doctrines of the pagan Roman religion and Platonic philosophy. He quoted
extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas in support of his views. This
indicates that the Gospel of Barnabas was in circulation in the first
and second centuries of Christianity.
In 325 (CE), a council of Christian leaders met at Nicaea and made
Paul's beliefs officially part of Christian doctrine. It also ordered
that all original Gospels in Hebrew script which contradicted Paul's
beliefs should be destroyed. An edict was issued that anyone in
possession of these Gospels would be put to death.
The Gospel of Barnabas has miraculously survived though.
7. Do Christians believe he was killed on the cross? YES
This is a core Christian belief and it relates to the concept of
atonement. According to this belief, Jesus died to save mankind from
sin. However, this is not stated explicitly in the four gospels which
form the primary source texts of Christianity. It is found, however, in
Christians believe Jesus was spat on, cut, humiliated, kicked, striped
and finally hung up on the cross to endure a slow and painful death.
According, to Christian belief, the original sin of Adam and Eve of
eating from the forbidden tree was so great that God could not forgive
it by simply willing it, rather it was necessary to erase it with the
blood of a sinless, innocent Jesus.
The four Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul are the main sources of
Christianity which discuss the Resurrection of Jesus after his
crucifixion. According to St. Matthew, Jesus appeared to the holy women,
and again on a mountain in Galilee. Mark's Gospel tells a different
story: Jesus was seen by Mary Magdalene, by the two disciples at Emmaus,
and the Eleven before his Ascension into heaven.
Luke's Gospel says Jesus walked with the disciples to Emmaus, appeared
to Peter and to the assembled disciples in Jerusalem. In John's Gospel,
Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the ten Apostles on Easter Sunday,
to the Eleven a week later, and to seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
Another account of the resurrection by St. Paul is found in Bible:
Corinthians 15: 3-8.
According to Christian belief, Resurrection is a manifestation of God's
justice, Who exalted Christ to a life of glory, as Christ had humbled
himself unto death (Phil., 2: 8-9). This event also completes the
mystery of Christian salvation and redemption. The death of Jesus frees
believers from sin, and with his resurrection, he restores to them the
most important privileges lost by sin (Bible: Romans 4:25).
More importantly, the belief in the resurrection of Jesus indicates
Christian acknowledgment of Christ as the immortal God, the cause of
believers' own resurrection (Bible: I Corinthians 4: 21; Phil.,
3:20-21), as well as the model and the support of a new life of grace
(Bible: Romans 4: 4-6; 9-11).
MORE ON ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
The other Ansar: Companions of Prophet Jesus
John the Baptist: A Prophet of Islam
Muslim-Christian Relations, The Good, the Bad
For further study of a Muslim view of Jesus and Christianity read the
Jesus, Prophet of Islam by Muhammad 'Ata'ur-Rahim
For Christ Sake by Ahmad Thomson and Muhammad 'Ata'ur-Rahim
For a unique Christian view of the Islamic contribution to the West read
the following book:
Islam and the Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane
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